This is going to be a long one, but a good one.
First off, let us congratulate you on becoming a new parent! We can already tell you’re feeling over the moon with excitement, but perhaps a little unsure of what to do once they’ve made it home.
To get you feeling confident and ready to embark on this adventure, we’ve gathered some of the most useful tips and insights you’re going to need to hit the ground running.
Tips on picking up your dog for the first time
We share your excitement of picking your puppy up for the first time. To make your first meeting run smoothly and free of any stress, here is some good advice to calm your nerves:
- Pick a weekend: Picking your puppy up on the weekend will let you have plenty of time with them at home to let them settle in. This will also give you enough time to get to know each other, and start working on your routines.
- Make the transition easier: To make their journey home more comforting, give the breeder a blanket to impregnate the smell of their mother and siblings. Otherwise, ask the breeder if you can have a piece of the bedding they have used with your puppy.
- Take water from the breeder’s: Ask the breeder for some water from their tap – this will help prevent an upset stomach (polite way of saying a poopy mess) when your puppy drinks water from your home.
- Prepare for the journey home: Decide where your puppy is going to go for the journey home. This can be quite stressful for them, so we recommend having a warm blanket and a lap for them to sit on. If you don’t have anyone to hold them securely (and lovingly, of course) in the car, have a crate or carrier secured onto the passenger seat so you can be close to them.
- Prepare their collar! In tune with the rules yet? It’s a legal requirement that all dogs in the UK should wear a collar and ID tag for their safety – not only for purposes of fashion. Have a soft collar and ID tag ready to put on your puppy before you head home.
- Pee stops: If you live far away from the breeder’s, make sure to stop every 30 minutes for a toilet break (for your puppy, not yourself). See if they’ll go on the puppy training pad.
- Get your house puppy-ready: Have everything ready and set up in-home for when your puppy arrives.
- Prepare for smelly accidents: If it’s a long journey back home, you definitely want to pack paper towels and line their crate with puppy pads. Have an enzyme cleaner ready with you in case they have an accident!
PRO TIP: Lots of puppies are often sick on their way home. To avoid cleaning up sick from in between the cracks of your car (getting anything out of them always seems impossible) ask your breeder not to feed your puppy the morning you pick them up. But don’t worry if it happens! They’re just babies after all, really.
Here’s a quick checklist of things we suggest you buy before you pick up your puppy:
- A crate lined with vet bed
- A play pen connected to the crate (place a puppy pad at the furthest end from the crate).
- A water bowl near your puppy’s crate
- A couple of puppy-safe chew toys, puzzle toys and soft toys for him to investigate. Here’s a short list of pretty ace ones:
- Small soft treats to start toilet training as soon as you can
- An enzyme cleaner
Tips on the first week with a new puppy
It’s simply a fact that the first week of having a new puppy at home can be quite a shock for most owners.
They really are like newborn babies, and need a lot of help to adjust to their new home in the first week. They won’t need you to change their diapers, but they’ll still need a lot of your attention (and affection).
Take a look at what they have to cope with:
- Adjusting to their new home
- Being away from their mother and littermates and no one to snuggle up to at night
- Drinking out of a different bowl
- Lots of new smells (including your shoes)
- New people to bond with
- A new bed to sleep in
For only being on the planet for a few weeks, it’s quite a lot to deal with. Remember to be patient and supportive!
If you were a puppy, you’d probably want the same.
Here’s what you should expect in your puppy’s first week at home:
- A huge disruption in your sleep patterns!
At first, it’s unlikely that your puppy will sleep through the night. It’s quite distressing to have so many changes at once; especially being on their own for the first time, and when it comes to needing the toilet during the night.
Tips for how to help your puppy sleep at night:
- Place their crate next to your bed. Having you close to them will help them feel safe since you’re right there if they need you.
- Stay half awake: We mean this half literally. During the night, listen out for them squeaking at night, it might mean they need the loo. If they start making noises, take them straight to their toilet area and back. It’s okay if they take a few minutes to go, they’re simply getting used to their surroundings.
If you’re sure they don’t need the toilet, lean over and talk to them gently to help them feel comforted and at peace.
- Change your bedtime for later: The later you go to bed, the less chance they’ll need the toilet during the night. Try to make bedtime midnight if you can, after one last poo.
- Early mornings: Wakey-wakey! Set your alarm for an earlier time in the morning and make taking your puppy to the toilet be the first thing on your to-do list.
- Toilet accidents
- Be their toilet guide: Yes, this is also your new title. Help your puppy know where they should go to the toilet by having a specific toilet area. Preferably, you want to have them have a space to go somewhere outside or a puppy pad area away from their crate.
- Keep a schedule: To get the puppy toilet training train going, create (and follow) a good schedule that includes bedtime and wake ups, feeding, play, sleep and nap times, and of course, toilet breaks. At the start, toilet breaks will need to be as frequent as every 15 minutes!
- Expect your puppy to chew and destroy things
Before your puppy makes it home, we strongly recommend puppy-proofing your house. They might look cute, but those teeth could chew through anything. Anything.
- Put out of reach anything you want to keep in full form: This includes electrical cables, toilet rolls (a firm favourite), shoes, cushions, remotes…
- Use baby gates: If there’s a particular room you don’t want your puppy in, use baby gates to keep them out. They’re surprisingly difficult to open; they could easily be human adult-proof.
- Create a confinement area for your puppy: Include their crate, toys and a water bowl so you know they’re taken care of when you can’t keep a good eye on them.
Tips on getting a puppy when you’re out all day
Unfortunately, our daily activities aren’t entirely puppy friendly. The world isn’t that advanced yet.
However, the truth is that dogs are as social as can be, and need human interaction. Because of this, they really shouldn’t be left on their own all day.
But we recognise that you must have many other responsibilities besides looking after your puppy. Going to work or going to Sainsbury’s for a food shop are probably among the most common ones.
If you have to leave your puppy at home for longer period of time, we recommend doing the following before you go on your way:
- Alone time training: Before you leave them, go through a couple of short sessions of alone time training so that being left on their own doesn’t take them completely by surprise.
- Get their basic needs covered: Before you leave, make sure your puppy has been exercised, fed and taken to the toilet. It’s a good way to keep them from needing anything in particular for quite some time. Leave puppy training pads and a fresh water bowl within their reach too!
- Connect their crate to a confined space: Have your puppy’s crate with the door left open connected to a playpen or in a confinement area. This will ensure they have some room to move around, and not feel like they’ve been trapped.
- Leave them entertained: A Kong or stuffed chew toy is brilliant to give them something to do in your absence. They do a great job at keeping them busy and hold them off missing you for a little while.
- Get spying: Ah, what a wonder technology is. Set up a pet camera so that you can keep an eye on your puppy throughout the time you leave them.
- Find trusty helpers: If you’re leaving your puppy for several hours, it’s a good idea to look into a trusted pet carer or dog walker.
- A pet carer (or dogsitter) is mostly someone that pops by to visit your puppy for a couple of hours to a full day. They’ll make sure your puppy is played with and taken to the toilet.
- A dog walker, as the job title indicates quite clearly, will come in and collect your puppy for a walk. Ask your dog walker how many dogs they walk with your puppy with; the fewer the better so they get as much attention as possible. Also ask whether they use positive methods when handling their dogs (the answer should be yes to this one).
- Lowkey hellos and goodbyes: Don’t make your departures or arrivals too exciting – keep them laid-back to avoid over-stimulating your puppy. Chances are they’ll probably already be buzzing to see you walk inside. Seeing you go outside though, not so much. But your sweet, gentle voice will do just fine to let them know you’ll be back before they know it.
Tips on food, treats & toxic foods
Did you know some foods are poisonous to dogs? Yep, not good.
Here are the top 5 commonly found human foods that are toxic to dogs
- Grapes and Raisins
- Xylitol – found in many ‘sugar free’ peanut butter products
We know you might enjoy many of the ones on this list yourself – we do as well – and are excited to share your love for them with your puppy. But in this case, happiness isn’t always best when shared. They like meaty treats much better anyway, they really won’t miss your Belgian chocolates.
See this list by the ASPCA for a more exhaustive list of foods your puppy shouldn’t eat.
What treats are best for my puppy?
Treats are your magic wand for toilet training. Using them as rewards will let your puppy know and feel motivated about having successfully completed a task.
- Good smell: If they smell fishy, it’s probably a good thing. The most important thing when choosing treats is that they smell really good. Dogs have fewer taste buds than humans but have a much stronger sense of smell, so you will definitely have to charm them through their nose. If you see your puppy going bonkers, congratulations, you have excellent taste in dog treats.
PRO TIP: Treats shouldn’t form more than 10% of your puppy’s daily calorie intake, so cut them up very small. You can also try to use some of their regular food for their training.
Yes, there is thing such as a puppy treat hierarchy:
High Value Treats
These are the puppy treats you want to use when overcoming difficult situations – like the dreaded visits to the vet.
High value treats are mainly meat based and quite appetizing. These can include human foods such as small pieces of:
- Hot dog
- Cheese (in moderation)
- Cocktail Sausages
- Sandwich or deli meats (low salt)
Or if you’re feeling crafty, home-made treats such as:
- Liver Cake
- Sardine Cake
- Oven dried liver and heart (not your ex’s please).
Medium Value Treats
Commercial treats tend to fall into this category. You can use them for rewarding puppies after tasks or situations of “middle” difficulty. Think of it as an in-between treat – for when your puppy does something more than sitting, but less than overcoming their fears of vaccines.
Quite a lot of grey areas there, but you’ll probably come up with several instances you can use them for.
Here are some of our personal favourites. (Link to Puppito treats article)
Low Value Treats
Low value treats are simply your puppy’s kibble – code for every day dog food. They’re the ones you should opt for when treating your puppy for doing everyday, easy jobs like settling on his mat, or when they’ve finally mastered a harder task like going to the loo in the right place.
They’re simply a good way to keep up reward-based training while providing good nutrition and staying off the extra pounds.
PRO TIP: Have a bag of your puppy’s regular kibble to use as low value treats, but have another bag with slightly different and tastier kibble that you can use as a treat, The goal is to make your puppy perceive them as being better and be more likely to work for them. This is a good way to keep your puppy from getting chubs – you’re still giving your puppy a COMPLETE diet, and you’ll have more treats to give during training.
PRO TIP: Whenever you’re training, make sure to not go overboard with feeding them treats so that they don’t gain weight excessively. We all know the uphill battle losing weight can be.
For in-between meal times, you’re welcome to treat your puppy to larger snacks. Snack-type treats are great to keep them entertained and relaxed without needing your full attention. They’ll also probably help you score some extra bonus points.
Here are some good examples of snacks they’ll like to dig in to:
- Puppy dental sticks
- Rice bones
- Peanut butter biscuits
Puppy Safe Chews
As you could probably tell from the various attempts to bite your hands off, puppies need to chew a lot! Although they look like they could bite through steel, there are certain things that are too hard for their baby teeth. Yes, steel is definitely one of them. So are antler, cooked bones, wood and metal.
PUPPY TEETH FACTS
Are you familiar with the well-known Baby Shark campfire tune? If not, you’ll definitely know it by the time your puppy gets into chewing everything in his way.
Puppies have razor sharp teeth as they don’t have much strength in their jaws, because they still need to be able to tear at meat and for survival – not that they’ll need to use their teeth to survive in your home, but you get the picture.
Just like us humans, they lose their sharp baby teeth and replace them with their adult set: two beautiful rows of flatter and bigger teeth. This transition can last months, and will spend much of this time strengthening their jaws to crunch through bones (not yours, don’t worry) but also to protect themselves against predators. Make sure they always have appropriate chew toys; not only to help his teething, but also to protect your Billy IKEA cupboard.
Your puppy will start off with 28 shark like teeth and will end up with 42 – 12 incisors, 4 canines, 16 premolars and 10 molars when reaching adulthood.
Best Chew toys for puppies
Here’s a curated list of our favourite chew toys for puppies:
Yak Chews – Made from Himalayan yak milk
Vegetable chews – You’ll see these in all kinds of shapes: toothbrushes, hedgehogs, crocodiles, your boss (ha, you wish)and puppies go crazy for them.
Rice Bones – They’re quite hard, but nice to chew for a couple of hours. They’re also low fat, gotta love that.
Buffalo Horn – Yes, these exist. Made from keratin, the buffalo horn is ace for a good long lasting chew. Many of them can be stuffed with cheese, for example.
Frozen chew toys
For puppies, chewing on frozen chew toys feels amazing on their sore gums – brain freeze isn’t really a think for them. We recommend using Kongs, but you should introduce them little by little in terms of difficulty so that they don’t get to frustrated about figuring it out and give up straight away.
Level 1: Stuff the toy loosely with a few treats.
Level 2: Smear some peanut butter on the inside, and add some high value treats to get them more into chewing and licking.
Level 3: This is the hardest level; stuff the toy with more peanut butter blobs and treats, and then freeze.
Tips on Puppy Toilet Training
Ah, the dreaded puppy toilet training regime.
Not to worry, you’ll both get the hang of it with practice and a little bit of patience. Here are some potty training tips to get you on the same page:
PRO TIP: We won’t lie – accidents will happen in those first few weeks! During this period, an enzyme cleaner will be your best friend. Be prepared to take on cleaning duties a lot more than you’re used to. You won’t be doing it for too long, chin up!
Rhythm is key: A great way to tackle puppy toilet training is to create a schedule around toilet breaks. Make sure to give the loo a visit after:
- And roughly after every 15 minutes too!
Put your rugs away! With all due respect, we don’t want your puppy to mistake your beautiful rugs and mats for a puppy pad. Puppies are quite fond of soft surfaces for going to the toilet, so we advise you to keep them out of danger for now!
Watch out for toilet signs: Although your puppy can’t express his needs through words, there are certain things they can do to signal them to you. Here are the most common ones:
- Behaving Agitated
- Biting or licking your hands
- Attention seeking behaviour
PRO TIP: Have a pot of treats ready near the toilet area so that you don’t forget to reward your puppy every time they go to the toilet in the right place. Every. Single. Time.
Punishment isn’t the answer: As we mentioned before, accidents happen! Your safest bet is to ignore your annoyance (we feel you) and clean it up. Punishment isn’t effective because it will encourage your puppy to go on ‘secret pee excursions’ around the house instead, and will set your toilet training back.
Confinement is your friend: Let’s put it this way; the less space your puppy has to roam around, the less chances of them having accidents around the house. Using a confinement area such as a crate, puppy pen or baby gated area will really help to speed up toilet training and keep your sanity for longer. We’ve all gone through it before, we understand how toilet training can feel tedious!
Tips on Puppy Crate Training
Crate training your puppy will do miraculous things for toilet training, travelling and visiting all sorts of places, including the vet.
Here are our golden tips for successful crate training:
Make quick introductions: Within day one of bringing your puppy home, try to have them sleep inside the crate from the first time. Make it nice and comfortable with a warm blanket and a couple of soft toys to keep him company during the night. No need to shut the door for now, but do try to get them to sleep there on that first day. It’s a great way to start on the right foot!
Crate door stays open: Make sure you don’t close or lock the crate door until you’re sure you have gone through our complete crate training guide. Once that’s covered, you’ll feel happy with having the door closed. Any sooner can be a bit distressing for them, and who wants to see a sad puppy?
Crates are for sleeping, not punishment! Pretty self-explanatory, but worth remembering. Your mission during this training is to make your puppy feel at ease with the crate, as if it were his sanctuary. You’re not going to punish them anyway (riiight?), but just so you have an idea, associating the crate with punishment would make them want to stay away from it…which you don’t want.
Don’t leave your puppy in the crate for too long: Having said how social they are, being in the crate for too long can end up making them become scared, anxious or frustrated. On top of that, if they pee in the crate, you’ll undo all of the fabulous progress you’ve done on toilet training!
Place the crate in a common area: Somewhere your family likes to spend time in is great, unless it’s a main thoroughfare like a hallway where it might be too busy. The living room usually makes a good location for dog crates; they won’t mind joining you for some telly.
Feed your puppy’s meals inside the crate: You’ll preferably want to start giving them their food inside puzzle toys so that it takes them longer to eat (and avoid the aftermath of indigestion) and they build confidence inside the crate.
Turn the crate into a fun den: Convince them further about their crates being friendly places to be by hiding treats and toys inside for your puppy to find.
Connect a play pen: If you have to leave for an extended time, have the crate connected to a play pen with a toilet training pad (as farthest from the crate as you can) to help them distinguish their toilet area from their sleeping and activity better. Wouldn’t want to get those mixed up!
Tips on Puppy Toys & Games
It’s no secret that puppies love to play! Here are some of our best tips to make the most out of play time:
Hands are not toys: You’re welcome to give your puppy a hand while playing, just make sure it’s not your literal hand. Always use toys to play with your puppy (not just with your hands) to avoid getting bitten by their (very) baby shark teeth.
No rough games (for now): As you are now well aware, you don’t want to mix sharp teeth with your hands. We recommend discouraging puppies from playing wrestling or rough housing games when they’re young to avoid damaging them, or us!
Keep an eye on children and puppies: Can’t deny they make the perfect pair, as long as they are supervised. Don’t leave young children and puppies playing together unsupervised since it’s all too easy for a puppy to accidentally scratch a child when going for a toy.
Play nice! Yep, this one’s for you. Although puppies can seem quite strong because of their high energy and sharp teeth, they’re more delicate than we may realise. We don’t want to frighten you, but being too rough in play can cause serious damage to their joints and even pull their teeth out. But all of this is easily avoided by being gentle – they’re really just babies in the end.
Play clever games: Those that encourage innate behaviour such as chasing (toys, not children!) sniffing, chewing, scavenging and digging are tip top.
Sharing is caring: Show your puppy that great things come with sharing, by swapping a lot during playtime (kind of like a ‘if I give you this you give me that’ situation). This will prevent your puppy from resource guarding and becoming like Lucy Van Pelt (the well-known anti-hero of the Peanuts series).
- You can try this by playing with one toy, and then pulling out another one your puppy likes. Incite play with that one so that they drop the first one, and continue the cycle.
Tips on Enrichment
Having an enriched environment for your puppy’s mental development is quite important for learning to lower stress and boredom. You will often hear this referred to as Environmental Enrichment – or keep things cool, simply as enrichment.
Sounds like we should take notes for our own mental development, to be fair.
Easy at-home enrichment toys to make
Here’s some ideas for quick enrichment toys you can make yourself:
The Bog Roll Game: Placing cardboard toilet rolls in an old shoe box with kibble scattered in, makes the most fun searching experience for puppies, while also helping them slow down their chomping.
Bottle’s Up! Place kibble inside an empty plastic fizzy drink bottle for your puppy to knock around and work on his problem-solving skills to get the food out. Prepare for the noise! It’s going to be a loud one, but you’ll see it will make them go over the moon with joy.
The Red Carpet: Lay a towel out on the floor and roll it up as you place some kibble inside. Your puppy will not rest until the towel has been unrolled, and food eaten.
The Muffin Tin Puzzle: A hit among the canines. Fill a muffin tin with tennis balls inside and treats underneath them – it’s the ultimate whack-a-mole.
Ice Cubes: Especially for hot summer days, getting some Ice cubes with plain water or bone broth can be a scrumptious way for puppies to cool down and play as they slide around the kitchen floor.
For more ideas, click here.
Enrichment experiences you can try with your puppy
The outdoors is a great place to provide your puppy with some outstanding enrichment activities.
- Teach your puppy to walk on different surfaces such as:
- Tiles – carpet or stone
- A large tray with water to paddle in (this one is heartwarming to watch).
- Take them on walks to places like:
- A forest
- The beach
- A city farm (if dogs are allowed)
Tips on Socialisation
In everybody’s world, not only dogs’, being sociable is one of the most important things we can do to simply make life run smoother and better.
For your puppy, this means meeting new and different people, animals and experiences. It’s very important to start training puppies to be sociable while they’re young so that they can overcome any struggle or worry as quickly as possible, and simply enjoy their time outside a lot sooner.
Here are a couple of puppy socialisation tips you’ll find useful:
Start slowly: The first few days you puppy is home everything can feel overwhelming, so take your time, and don’t do everything all at once. Easy does it.
Watch the world go by: A good activity we like doing during their first days at home is to sit just outside of your home and allow them to observe their surroundings. This lets them take in vital information about the world around them; and although first encounters with things like curious pigeons or loud cars can startle them a bit, they’ll bounce back quickly and realise that they won’t do them any harm.
PRO TIP: With puppies, “facing their fears” doesn’t work. If they have a strong fearful response to something, move them away from it, and allow them to experience it from afar.
Don’t forget their treats: Every day you take your puppy outside, make sure to always bring some treats with you so you can reward him for jobs well done every now and then – the lesson is that the outside world is a rewarding place. It truly is to be honest, the amount of times a simple picnic in the park has uplifted our moods is evidence of that.
Stay in small groups: Let’s rather not turn it into a national event. We recommend that just two people visit your puppy at a time during their first week at home to avoid getting so overwhelmed by so many new faces all at once. All the ooh’s and the aah’s can be a bit too much as a wee lad.
Keep calm and puppy will be fine: When you have people come visit your puppy, allow your puppy to approach them when they are ready. Handing guests a few treats can be great help in making your puppy enjoy the experience of being around new people. Perhaps we should try doing the same next time we find ourselves in the middle of strangers at a birthday party.
Diversity matters: Yes, diversity also matters in your puppy’s world. Build familiarity between your puppy and people of all:
- Different physical characteristics
- People in uniforms
- People in unfamiliar clothing such as hats, glasses, headscarves, Hi-Viz and hoodies.
Puppy-class: Puppy classes are quite helpful ways to get your puppy socialising in a safe, controlled way. Examples we recommend of well-run puppy class are definitely with trainers from www.capbt.org and www.apdt.co.uk or a member of UK Dog Behaviour and Training Charter: Homepage Besides their shining personalities, dog trainers will talk you through puppy socialisation. Ask whether they allow free play with other puppies! It’ll be grand for them, but also within a controlled, safe environment so no one gets hurt.
No touchy? Remember– your puppy isn’t everybodys, so if you don’t want a stranger touching them, that’s completely fine. Just just make up an excuse (an excellent opportunity to think creatively) and move along!
Puppy carriers: Carriers are truly the bee’s knees when it comes to your puppy’s first steps in socialisation. We encourage using carriers when going on socialisation field trips with your puppy, especially ones that involve public transport like trains and buses. Going on a ride for a few stops will do just fine – it will help them feel safe and confident in entirely new surroundings.
Confidence is key: As long as you’re cool as a cucumber, they’ll follow. If we teach our puppy that all of these new (and often dodgy-looking) experiences are no great shakes, it will rub off on them and help them become strong, independent, confident dogs.
Who doesn’t love a good list? You can download our socialisation checklist here– we’ve added some of our own ideas and some room for you to add your own. Download checklist
Tips on Official Matters (Vaccs, Taxes, First time to vet, etc.)
Golly gosh, the official matters. They came out of the blue for us as adults, and now they’ll strike again as pup parents.
To make it easier than the first time you began adulting, here are a few tips to get through the official puppy matters smoothly:
Tips for a good first vet visit
Fill the paperwork and ask questions: Think of any questions or things you’d like to know surrounding anything at all about your puppy, and write them down before going to the vet so you don’t forget.
Don’t forget the essentials! If your puppy has had their first round, bring your vaccination card from the breeder or rescue with you. If they’ve been given any wormer or flea treatment already, make sure to bring details of them as well.
PRO TIPS: Before you bring your puppy home, ask your breeder or rescue centre you got them from whether they will be giving your puppy their first vaccinations.
Ask them which brand or make the vaccine is , and bring this up with your vet. This is important to do, since the brand does need to match to their new ones, otherwise you’ll have to restart the vaccine schedule. Your puppy will also lose out on valuable socialisation time if this happens, so better ask first.
Book an early bird appointment: Schedule an early appointment, as there will be less chance that appointments before yours run late, and you find yourself waiting in a hectic waiting room.
Early bird catches worm: Again with the bird metaphors. Arrive early to your appointment to give your puppy a chance to get settled and comfortable. Zooming in will probably make your puppy pick up on your stress, and associate the vet’s with it – not a good idea.
No to pre-vet meals: Avoid getting your dog’s dinner from last night (pun intended) inside your car. Don’t feed your puppy before you travel to the vets to avoid any travel nausea on the way!
Bring in the high value: You know, the ones that make their tails wag like propellers. Cooked chicken, sausage or cheese will always be received with a big smile; and makes the experience much more fun for your puppy. For you as well, if you’d fancy some treats yourself.
Make regular visits: Once your puppy has had their first vet visit keep visiting the vet often. Pop by for a quick chat at the vets, while letting your puppy explore the waiting room. This will help them become familiar with the room, the staff and about coming for visits every now and then.
Treats from the staff: You already know that treats work like a charm. Have the vet staff hand your puppy treats so we start building positive associations. It’s sort of like bribing to be fair, but truly in the best way possible.
According to the UK law, all puppies sold must be microchipped by their breeder before they go off to their new homes. You wouldn’t want to upset the Queen now would you?
When you go and visit the vet’s for the first time, ask them to scan your puppy’s microchip to check it hasn’t moved around, and is working properly. Now that you’ve got that sorted, your vet will add your puppy’s microchip number to their patient record.
Important: Make sure all of your details are correct with your puppy’s microchip company – keep these up to date in case you move house or change your phone number! That way, if your puppy ever gets lost (don’t want to be negative, but just to be on the safe side), they can be redirected straight back to you.
Also, keep your puppy’s microchip number at hand (whether you jot it down on a notepad or completely memorize it) for your Pet Insurance, should you decide to insure them.
Common Mistakes to Avoid when getting a new puppy
Not getting enough sleep – It’s clear you won’t be getting much of it anyway, but it’s the puppy we’re referring to here. Puppies need huge amounts of sleep when they’re young, just like human babies. To help them get their beauty sleep, we suggest you:
- Place their crate away from all the buzz and noise so that they can sleep undisturbed.
- Stick to a nap schedule (not you, the puppy!)
- Learn to recognise whether your puppy is sleepy; getting bitey or irritable are good signs that they probably need to go to sleep. Just like a toddler at the shops.
Too much freedom too soon!
Freedom will come one day! You’ll both be singing along to George Michael sooner than you think, don’t worry.
But while they’re young, you might want to keep your puppy from enjoying too much freedom since it can result in pesky things like:
- Toilet training mistakes (the smelly ones)
- Things, like your collection of Monty Python DVDs, being destroyed and chewed
- Your puppy accidentally hurting themselves
- Your puppy escaping
But you can easily prevent this by:
- Placing them inside a confinement area when not watching them
- Closing off any rooms they don’t need to be in
- Making sure your garden is well fenced
- Not leaving the front door open. We hope you’re not doing this one whether or not you have a puppy.
So we know for sure that dogs aren’t sheep. Even if you’ve named them Shaun. What this also means is that, unlike sheep, dogs shouldn’t be left to graze on food all day. Leaving food all day for the puppy to have every now and then on their own schedule, isn’t the best idea.
We know the wonderful feeling of finding an uneaten (but still edible) piece of food around the house. Although puppies may share this joy, you want to prevent this from happening. Topping up or leaving a bowl of food down all day can often cause problems such as:
- Food going off, and your puppy becoming fussy about eating that food again (rightfully so, to be completely honest).
- Making your life and toilet training difficult by making going to the loo more unpredictable, (you’ll never know when they need to go).
- Slowing down overall puppy training as you’ll never be sure if he’s hungry or not.
- Not knowing how much your puppy is eating, and risking putting on extra weight.
Instead of free feeding, try the following:
- Having a meal schedule that reminds you to feed your puppy
- We recommend feeding them three to four meals a day depending on their age. If they’re younger, go for an extra one (let’s call it tea time) to help them stay full overnight, and not wake up from feeling peckish.
- After their meals, try not to offer food until the next meal. Don’t let their eyes get you!
- Making sure your puppy is fully in love with the food he’s given (like you and curly fries). Feel free to try different brands and flavours!
- Use food toys. They’ll encourage your puppy to eat by making a picnic out of it.
We hope not to burst your bubble, but dogs can’t speak languages. No matter how many times you ask him what he’s doing as he munches away at the daily newspaper, we won’t really know what you mean at all.
However, dogs respond to cues quite remarkably. Here are some tips for teaching your puppy cues; just watch the magic of good communication:
- Once having taught your puppy to do something on cue, say the cue just once and wait. Especially in the early days, they need this extra thinking time to connect the dots.
- When they do the task correctly, give them a yummy reward
- Use the cue in different environments – train your puppy inside and outside, in your garden and in different rooms of your house to let him understand that the magic word works anywhere.
PRO TIP: Make a list of your puppy’s “cue dictionary” and hang it somewhere visible around the house, so your family always knows the right words to use.
Over enthusiastic greetings and departures
Not gonna lie, we understand the ego-boost from seeing your puppy get so excited from seeing you…can’t get enough of it!
But over-enthusiastic greetings and departures can leave your pup feeling rather anxious. Let’s help them cope with your movements by:
Keeping cool: Remain calm when you leave and return so your puppy thinks it’s no big deal that you’re going or coming back. Don’t you worry, he will still think you’re his hero. No need to completely ignore them – when you come back inside, a simple hello is all right.
Wait for calm: When you walk in, wait until your puppy has calmed down before you say hello to them.
Practice: Practice going in and out of the front door multiple times a day to get them used to the fact you’re not abandoning him. Popping outside for a few seconds at a time will do just fine.
Not implementing a routine and feeding schedule
Routines are key for polishing all the essentials puppies need to become clever and easy going dogs. The structure of knowing when they will eat, sleep, play and toilet provides puppies confidence to take on the world, as they can predict what is going to happen in the future.
Little fortune tellers, them.
The absence of routines is code for having accidents, and you never really feeling like you’re in control of your puppy’s day to day needs. But that’s easily avoided: Just stick to a routine. Unlike the New Year’s resolutions we don’t stick to (but do all right either way), there is one thing where consistency is key – when it comes to puppy training.
Being apprehensive about socialising without vaccinations
To make it simple, socialisation is best started early. When puppies are young, it’s so important to start introducing them to everything that lives on the planet to prevent them from developing behavioural problems as adults, and to give them a chance to understand what’s going on around them a lot better. It’s essentially about helping them see la vie en rose as they grow up.
However, socialisation must be carried out with care (especially if they haven’t had their vaccinations yet) so that we don’t expose them to unnecessary risk of disease.
Here’s what to do to lower the risk of bugs getting to your pup:
- Take them out in a carrier or a bag.
- When bringing your puppy out (with a harness or collar with a lead), bring a blanket and put it on the floor. This is now your puppy’s “square of safety” where they can experience the world from.
- Organize play dates with your friends dogs you know are vaccinated and friendly to puppies. Older dogs make great points of reference for puppies; they’ll show them everything from playtime, to setting limits (another way of saying, showing annoyance at overly playful puppies).
- We’re certain your pup will be cool for school. Join a puppy socialisation class (www.capbt.org and www.apdt.co.uk or members from https://ukdogcharter.org/ are our favourites) to let your puppy mix and play with other puppies – it’s truly a blast for them, and you.